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Serve Indiana, has selected eight outstanding Hoosiers and organizations to be recognized for their service to the community. The Serve Indiana Awards for Excellence are one of Indiana’s most prestigious annual awards celebrating the accomplishments of dedicated volunteers and service members.
Nominations were submitted from around the state, and the winners selected by a panel of Serve Indiana Commissioners, community volunteers, and previous award winners.
The 2016 Serve Indiana Awards for Excellence winners are:
Olivia Keith, Youth Volunteer, Fishers, IN
Olivia Keith started her nonprofit organization, Play It Safe, in 2014 to teach other children how to have fun while taking care of their brains and bodies. During the past two and a half years she has presented to over 2,000 individuals about her nonprofit. This advocacy and hard worked has resulted in 600 underprivileged children receiving new bicycle helmets and the distribution of over 1,750 new and used belts during the 2014-2015 school year for students
Finish Line Youth Foundation, Corporate Volunteer, Indianapolis, IN
Finish Line Youth Foundation dedicated funding and manpower to help support organizations and communities across the state over the last year. In 2016, the company promoted volunteerism by engaging over 250 employees and family members at the Special Olympics Indiana Games in Terre Haute as well as over 150 employees to build a KABOOM! PLAYGROUND so nearly 2,000 youth can now access a safe playground. In addition to this support of their communities, The Finish Line Youth Foundation partnered with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Indianapolis to support an Indianapolis eastside club grand opening, now aptly named the Finish Line Boys & Girls Club.
Matthew Pope, Faith-based Volunteer, Greenfield, IN
Matthew Pope grew up with strong connections to multiple faith communities which has manifested into a life of service. In 2014, he became a Partner in Mission at Cross of Grace and went on a mission trip with Family Health Ministries. This trip challenged him to help people in the most impoverished conditions on the planet overcome health, education, and economic barriers to survive. Locally he has also offered more than 1,000 hours to date, to his work with Shot@Life, 1,700 hours to RESULTS, and 100 hours to the ONE Campaign.
Take Ten, Service Learning, South Bend, IN
Take Ten is a conflict resolution, violence/bullying-prevention program that began as a slogan campaign and developed at the University of Notre Dame into a successful curriculum serving schools and other sites throughout the greater Michiana area. Take Ten reaches, indirectly, 8,000-10,000 youth during an academic year and with 120 volunteers who total 7,700 hours per academic year in direct service to local schools and non-profit community sites.
Kenneth Yahne, Lifetime Achievement, Fort Wayne, IN
Kenneth Yahne has devoted more than 50 years to his country, his community, and the legal profession. Through his volunteer work, he effectuated change in legal advocacy and social justice for the indigent the communities in Indiana by devoting 10 hours per week for 35 years, totaling 637,000 lifetime hours! Because of Kenneth’s service, 1,000 persons were served daily at the St. Mary’s Soup Kitchen, over 200 automobiles were donated to low income families with the AIM Program, over 150 indigent persons were assigned legal guardians, 200 children were served annually with the East Side/West Side summer camp program, 946 individuals received expungement education and 45 people were granted or are in the final stages of expungement of old felony convictions.
Natalia Rekhter, Volunteerism, Carmel, IN
Natalia Rekhter has transformed the Russian School of Indiana, which leverages the world-renowned talents of local Slavic residents, over the last 13 years into a multicultural center. She has volunteered 13,000 plus hours, serving 150 current students and 500 alumni. Her efforts helped increase the school’s enrollment from 24 to 150 students and has had 100% college placement for over 200 alumni who were the first in their family to attend college. Her efforts also resulted in raising $300,000+ from donations, grants, and an annual Russian festival.
The Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) of Northwest Indiana, Volunteer Program, Valparaiso, IN
The Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) of Northwest Indiana is the largest geographical RSVP program in the state, serving a 4-county area (Lake, Porter, LaPorte and Starke Counties) with a population of over 780,000 people. RSVP of Northwest Indiana collected over 5,000 sample-size toiletry items to local food pantries, homeless shelters, and sent to veteran group sand crafted and collected 400 handmade items that were distributed to homeless individuals. In addition, 1 13,179 veterans were provided transportation to medical appointments and emotional support. These efforts resulted in 96% of the service recipients stating that they take better care of themselves because of the assistance of the RSVP volunteers.
Brandon Million, National Service, Greensburg, IN
Brandon Million served as an AmeriCorps Member for United Way of Bartholomew County with Turning Point Domestic Violence Services .During his service he trained over 150 people in the community on Domestic Violence and created awareness of domestic violence issues facing the LGBTQI community. He helped organize 700 signatures on a pledge to end domestic violence in the LGBTQI Community, and handed out over 1,000 brochures about LGBTQI Domestic and Dating Violence. Because of his trainings and outreach, service providers are now able to relate more to clients and how to better assess their needs.
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